Transitioning from Gas Dependence to Nuclear Energy Dependence
Lukashenka and Putin recently engaged in discussions about the upcoming November CSTO summit. Lukashenka is promoting the idea of cost-effective nuclear energy and is positioning himself as the advocate of “Big Atom,” emphasizing the importance of nuclear power plants and nuclear capabilities.
Earlier this month, Lukashenka and Putin had a phone conversation, primarily focusing on the upcoming November summit of the CSTO heads of state. Belarus currently holds the chairmanship of the organization this year. They also discussed matters related to bilateral cooperation, with a strong emphasis on import substitution. Energy-related issues were discussed separately, and it appears that they will remain at the center of the relationship between the two countries until the end of 2023. During this period, Belarus and Russia have committed to reaching an agreement on the operational rules for the unified energy market, as stated by Belarusian Energy Minister Viktar Karankevich. While he provided somewhat vague details about ongoing work on the formation of unified gas and electricity markets, he expressed more confidence about the preparation of a draft interstate agreement on the electricity market.
In the meantime, Lukashenka, while receiving a report from the Ministry of Energy about the completion of the construction of the nuclear power plant, emphasized Belarus’ intention to seek compensation from Russia for the delay in commissioning the Belarusian nuclear power plant, which was constructed by Rosatom. He mentioned that Minsk has already proposed various options to resolve the penalty, such as adjustments to the price of fresh nuclear fuel and the warranty period for the main units and components of the nuclear power plant. Although the second power unit was connected to the grid in July, it has not yet been fully operational.
Belarus undertook loan payments to Russia for the construction of the plant, which was presented as a way to reduce energy dependence. The total volume of these payments amounts to USD 5.36 billion, and Russia is also the sole supplier of fuel for the station.
In light of this, the Belarusian authorities are actively discussing the potential construction of a second nuclear power plant. Lukashenka believes that this project could be financed using the savings from the initial loan of USD 10 billion. He argues that the advantages of nuclear energy are evident: it would enhance the efficiency of industry and agriculture and improve the lives of Belarusian citizens by providing affordable electricity.
Both Russia and Belarus have fully ratified the agreement on the mutual recognition of fines for traffic rule violations. This agreement covers all traffic violations, including those recorded automatically. Vladimir Putin signed the corresponding law on November 2, and it will become effective on November 13.
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Situation in Belarus